HC Deb 23 April 1861 vol 162 cc1012-4

rose to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the control and management of Her Majesty's naval yards; and to move— That it is not expedient to entrust the Board of Admiralty with the expenditure of the whole of the large amount proposed for the Naval Services in the Estimate for the current year according to the existing system of conducting and controlling the Naval Department. The hon. Member said he did not wish to cast any reflections upon the present Admiralty Board; he thought the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty had done much service both as a witness before the Royal Commissioners appointed last year and by the information which he had afforded to the House towards investigating the state of our naval affairs. It had been shown that great mismanagement existed. He referred to the Report of the Commissioners and to the evidence taken before them. No fewer than 12,000 questions had been asked by the hon. Members who sat on that Commission, and it had been clearly proved that great mismanagement had existed in the conduct of our naval affairs. He would not trouble the House with a discussion on the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, as that subject was under the consideration of a Committee now sitting, and of course the House would in some degree, be guided by its Report. But he wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that it was called upon to vote four millions of money to be expended under an inefficient management. The evidence taken before the Commissioners established the facts that there was a defective organization in the subordinate departments of the Admiralty and no satisfactory control. Upon these points he referred the House to the evidence of Sir Baldwin Walker and the Accountant General. It was also established that there was a want of a well-defined responsibility. Sir Baldwin Walker had told the Commissioners that the Comptroller was ignorant of what passed in the dockyards, for which he was responsible, and that it frequently happens that he only knew that there was a deficiency of material when there was an actual want of it; and it also appeared in evidence that delays had arisen in consequence of contradictory orders having been given by the various authorities. The Reports of the Commissioners also showed how the Comptroller's department was conducted, and its relation to the Accountant General's department, from which it was evident that there was a want of harmony and uniformity between them, and au ignorance on the part of the subordinates of the Department of the Comptroller of the Navy of the wants of the service. The hon. and gallant Member was proceeding, when—

Notice taken, that Forty Members were not present; House counted, and Forty Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at a quarter after Eight o'clock.